I saw a bumper sticker last week that said “Faith: when the truth doesn’t matter.” At first I was mildly offended, because I have faith in lots of things, including a deity, but the concept of faith, to me, is much broader. I have faith in the basic goodness of people. I have faith in myself to do my best. I have faith in the people who love me to be there, always. I have faith that we can all change ourselves for the better, a little bit at a time. I have faith in the power of love to change anything and everything in our world.
So, at first I was offended. But then I started thinking about it and it made me smile. Because that person might be right: maybe having faith is sometimes like saying the truth doesn’t matter. I know this sounds blasphemous from someone like me who goes on (and on and on) about wanting the truth, but here’s what I’m saying: Maybe faith is what happens when truth is replaced by hope.
Those of you who know me or read this blog regularly know that I am generally a hopeful, optimistic person, and I proudly wear my heart on my sleeve. A lot of the time, that serves me well, but certainly there are times when my open nature leads me down a fast laundry chute to heartache basement. This weekend was one of those times.
I am constantly amazed at my friends’ patience as they pick me up, yet again, dust me off, and encourage me to learn what I can and then move forward again. Most of my friends are far more emotionally cautious than I, but they never lecture me or seem exasperated by my tears. I was very conscious of it this weekend — my two best friends were so loving and caring and kind, when no one could have blamed them this time if they had simply thrown their hands in the air and said “Well, for goodness sake, what did you expect???” But they didn’t. Not even close. Honestly, sometimes I think that I’m greedy for wanting a big romantic love, when I have such phenomenal people in my life in so many other ways.
In my last post, the boy has got my back, I related how my friend K.C. tended to my bruised ego and dashed hopes this weekend. On Friday night, as we were talking, I asked him why he didn’t lecture me, why he wasn’t annoyed by my dating travails. He said, “Because I don’t want you to change. I don’t want you to be jaded and cynical like I am. I have never met anyone like you, and the longer I know you, the more I realize how rare that is. Nobody is genuine like you are. I need you to be the way you are. Your other friends need you to be the way you are, too. So, I’m going to do what I can to make sure that you don’t give up that part of you just because one more guy was too busy being a guy to see what he had in front of him.”
I thought about that all weekend, and here is what I realized: When I have faith in myself and the future, I am a better person. Hope makes me a better mom, a better friend, a better daughter, a better co-worker. I am more supportive, more loving, more forgiving, and more engaged in the people around me. I try harder and accomplish more and make a bigger contribution when I have hope and faith. I attract amazing, interesting, caring people.
Sure, maybe I’m just being flagrantly naive. Maybe my dreams of an extraordinary love are nothing but wishful thinking. Perhaps I’ll reach the end of my life, look back, and chuckle at how long and well I deluded myself that an amazing romance was just around the next corner. But if I do, won’t I still have a better life to look back on? Wouldn’t being cynical and jaded just mean that if I look back on a solitary life, it will be one of bitterness and anger and loneliness? Some people act like cynicism will be erased by “the right person.” This isn’t true, in my opinion. I think that our attitude to life and love is a habit — and the question becomes, are we going to cultivate a habit that leaves us open to love or one that doesn’t?
My step-mother likes to remind me that life is about the journey, not the destination. I thought about that this weekend, too. Maybe once again the point is how I choose to live my life, not what I get as a result. And if I get to choose, then I’m going to choose to keep the faith. The truth won’t be known for many years. In the meantime, it’s going to be a helluva ride, and I want faith riding shotgun.